Iceland 2019


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Europe » Iceland
February 9th 2019
Published: March 3rd 2019
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Iceland (Feb 5th - 8th 2019)

DAY 1: Let's Go!

Flying from (8am) Luton to Keflavik (11am), stepping out into Iceland for the first time and battling a blistering icy wind to our hire car, doing our best to slide to our vehicle on the thick and slippery ice, well it's -5C : Awesome!

There's no time to waste, we're not heading to the hotel first, we're starting the car, opening up our prepared bag of snacks (breakfast bars, noodles, and beef jerky), and heading off on our first site seeing tour; The Golden Circle.

Keflavik IAP > Gullfoss (Route 41, 163km over 2.5 hours by car)

I was in awe at the beauty of this country, the lava fields, towering mountains, and a landscape covered in snow and rock as far as the eye could see, stunning is an understatement. We were also hungry, we stopped off at Efstidalur Farm for a burger, and their famous ice cream. We were greeted by the farm dogs (two border collies, I think). We had a little poke around the building and we came across the farm shop and cafe on the first floor, the windows look out into the barn where the cows are kept, really quirky for visitors; a neat little place with lots of charm.

When we arrived at Gullfoss , we parked up (free parking), booted up and headed off (definitely can't go wrong with crampons it was clear by the number of people tripping up, and sliding about that these were essential). The wind was fierce, but the site itself was worth it, only a picture can really describe the beauty of this place.

Gullfoss > Geysir Geothermal Area (Haukadalur) (Route 35, 10km, 10 min)

Free parking opposite the site entrance, stick on your crampons if its icy, it certainly was on our visit, stick to the paths lined up, you don't to fall into one those bubbling 100c hot springs. When you turn the corner towards the Geysir, you might be welcomed by a passing blast of steam from Strokkur geysir, which erupts every 6-10 minutes, shooting up trapped steam some 20 meters into the air, truly fascinating to watch. There are several springs to see in this area, and a really beautiful walk about for such a rare experience.

Geysir to Laugarvatn Fontana Thermal Spa (Route 37, 30km, 23 mins)

So far, we have covered a couple of places, stopped off to admire the views along the way, snacked, and now we're ready for our 7pm Spa and evening meal at the Fontana thermal spa. I'm not really a big fan of spas, but the husband persuaded me to give this ago and I am really glad I did. There is something about jumping into a pool, heated by the nearby geysirs, with snow and ice surrounding you, the wind blowing icy cold, and looking up at the star lit sky that resets the mind; what an experience. After an hour in the pools (each set to different temperatures), we hit the sauna (my first time) before heading back in for our evening meal; a small buffet and selection of meat, and vegan based dishes.

Fontana > Our Hotel in Reykjavik

OK, this was supposed to take us 1 hour across 70km of snow covered roads, at about (9pm, so pretty dark). The snow had covered the roads to Reykjavik that forced the police to shut the main access road (Route 36) to the city, so we were sent on a detour to Porlakshofn (69km south) and then east to Grindavik (53km) and northwards to Reykjavik; a detour that took about 3 hours, driving through a blizzard in a 4x4 on snow mode; it was fun. We also saw an arctic fox bounce across the road through the snow and up onto a verge, beautiful. We made it back to our hotel; Icelandair Natura Hotel for tea and a good nights sleep.

DAY 2: To the North West

Wasting no time, we were up bright and early, packed up what we needed (clothes and snacks) and made our way out to the car (its about -5 this morning). Our first stop was 150km away (2 hours) at a mineral spring just off a farm in the north west of Iceland. The farm has been using this mineral spring for years, after examination in 1972 by two scientists claiming its qualities contribute to good health of people with heart and kidney conditions (the sign on entry explains this better).




Mineral Spring > Hellnar View Point (44km / 37min)

We decided to stop off and collect some water from the mineral spring here, free for anyone to take, just off a farm, really cool although a mouthful of this water was enough for me.



Hellnar View Point > Vatnshellir Caves

Beautiful scenic drive with Snaefellsjokull in the distance, the inspiration for Jules Verne's 'To the Centre of the Earth'



Vatnshellir Caves > Kirkjufellsfoss (58km - 43mins)

Right to the center of the Earth, or at least a Jules Verne inspired version of it. Gummy, the caves tour guide was a joy, his Gollum impression...perhaps needs some work but still a really funny, informative guide around this caves. Equipped with our hard hats, and torches we made our journey down into the 8000 year old caves on our 45 minute tour, the absolute silence, not even an echo, not a sound can be heard from down here. The cave is overwhelming, particularly as you consider the formation of this entire structure; Stalagmites, the glistening roof of the cave referred to as 'the galaxy', the spiral stirs, yes...we loved this!



Kirkjufellsfoss > Reykjavik Icelandair Hotel (179km - 2hr 24min)



DAY 3: A Mini Roadtrip

Reykjavik > Seljalandsfoss (128km - 1hr 40min)

Our first stop off on this journey to the
Vatnshellir CaveVatnshellir CaveVatnshellir Cave

Journey to the center of the earth
Diamond beach. Seljalandsfoss is a place to visit pretty early to avoid all the tourists, but again its wonderful (best bring a waterproof coat and boots). Once you have seen the waterfall, stick to the paths and take the scenic walk up to the other waterfalls along the leftside of Seljalandsfoss, you may need to walk through the river to get to Watterfall Sel.

Seljalandsfoss > Reynisfjara Beach (The Black Beach) - (61km - 49mins)

The black beach had so much going on, frozen icicles off the cliff side, the perfectly smooth undisturbed sands that the tourists hadn't ventured too far out to see. I did get a little to close to the waves and quite rightly got soaked by a surprise wave and drenched by boots and trousers, absolutely packing my boots with black sand in the process. The Basalt columns here are a pleasure to see, the formation of these columns due to the cooling and contraction of lava is really something special.

Reynisfjara Beach > Jokulsarlon Glacier (The Ice Lagoon)

Stopping for fuel, we treat ourselves to something hot, some Icelandic fish pie with rye bread, just what we needed on this little road trip. This was going to be the longest stretch of our journey, we made a couple of stops to look out at the ice blue of the glaciers creeping through the mountains in the distance, I had never seen anything like this before and it was a joy to witness.

We arrived at the Ice Lagoon, this was probably the busiest destination, considering its quite remote, but given the number of tourists this did not leave a mark on the sheer beauty of this location, particularly as the sun was beginning to set. We decided to walk to the further point away from the tourists and I'm so glad we did, off in the distance we could see wild reindeer, and down in the lagoon were about 4-5 seals bobbing about the frozen water.



The Diamond Beach

We have never seen anything like this, it was like a scene from a sci-fi series, a beautiful beach covered in ice from the size of footballs to the size of a small car. The sand was frozen, and the air pure. This was truly a wonderful experience. This was the final destination of the day, the sun is starting to set, the sky is becoming a darker blue, so it was time to set off back to the hotel.

The Journey Back > 378km and 4 hours 40mins



DAY 4

Into Reykjavik, we wanted to take a look around the city, although not one for city tours, I much prefer the wilds and nature it was something to do on our final day. We stopped off at a quaint little coffee shop, Mokka Kaffi, before heading off and spend 4-5 hours at the Perlan Museum, and planetarium.

Our last stop, to finish off our mini adventure in Iceland was the Eimverk Distillery

The flight home; finishing off Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (well, nearly).

Estimated distance covered: 1600km (994 miles in 3 Days).



RECOMMENDATIONS

Hire a car, its worth it for short visits, bus trips are more economical but restrictive and can be cut short given the weather and schedule. We faced several road closures so the detour took us an extra 3 hours (although the scenery was spectacular). Hiring your own vehicle will give you significantly more control over your journey and allow you to keep to your own plan.

In winter, there were so many cars that veered off the roads and got stuck in deep ditches, the side of the road may look shallow due to the snow but wow, keep clear, once you're stuck you're really stuck.

Food: wow! remortgage, take out a bank loan, or bring your own! We did buy the odd burger but the cost for food in Iceland is considerably more expensive compared to UK prices (more than double). It is worth packing your own food; noodles, energy bars, water, tea and instant coffee, powdered milk etc.

Respect: Always remember you're a guest, clean up after yourself, stick to the designated paths (you don't want to fall down a cave, into a lake through a snow covered hole in the ground), park appropriately, allow cars to pass you if you are deliberately driving under the speed limit, ohh and it doesn't hurt to speak a bit of the lingo, the locals will appreciate it.

Have a great time! We certainly did.


Additional photos below
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Reynisfjara BeachReynisfjara Beach
Reynisfjara Beach

The Black Beach


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